Oscar nom boosts Berlin

BERLIN — At the Berlin Film Market, Norwegian director Berit Nesheim has really learned what it means to be nominated for an Oscar.

Over the past year, her film “The Other Side of Sunday” won prizes and public plaudits at several major festivals, including Montreal and Tokyo, but buyers, particularly the Americans, stayed stubbornly away from the screenings.

Then last week the pic made it onto the Academy’s foreign-language film short list, and the Berlin screenings were suddenly packed to the rafters with distribs trying to find out what they had been missing.

The hottest interest is coming from the U.S., with top brass from Miramax, Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight all requesting a look at the film in Los Angeles over the next couple of weeks. Previously the pic was only generating international TV sales, but theatrical deals have now been closed in Australia, Brazil and Korea.

“There was always this gap between the enormous response we were getting from the public audience and the skepticism from distributors,” Nesheim says. “There is a lot of underestimating the audience by distributors today. They should have come and seen how large audiences reacted to this small film in Montreal and Tokyo, then I believe they would have wanted to buy it.”

“The Other Side of Sunday” is a coming-of-age story set in a small Norwegian town in 1959, about a vicar’s adolescent daughter who decides there’s more to life than sitting dutifully in church. It won audience awards at Montreal, Palm Springs and San Jose, and two best actress prizes as Tokyo.

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